Category Archives: Friends and Opinions

A CHIEF JUSTICE SERENO IS WIN-WIN FOR P-NOY

 

JGL Eye

By JOSEPH G. LARIOSA

(© 202012 Journal Group Link International)

 

CHICAGO (jGLi) – Published reports that install Justice Secretary Leila de Lima as the front-runner in the search for the replacement of convicted Chief Justice Renato Corona are not only overhype but also myopic choice.

Even if the Judicial Bar Council (JBC) would include Secretary De Lima, my kababayan (region mate) from Bicol (she was born in Iriga City), in the short list, my bet is President Noynoy Aquino should not pick her as the first woman Chief Justice of the Philippines. That is, if he wants to continue with his Daang Matuwid (straight path) reform program.

Not because the Integrated Bar of the Philippines is having issues with her for defying the Supreme Court’s TRO (temporary restraining order), allowing former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) to leave the country. The TRO was, in effect, subsequently affirmed by Pasay City Judge Jesus Mupas, who allowed GMA to post a one-million-peso bail. Secretary De Lima should really apologize to the Supreme Court for defying its order.

Mr. Aquino still needs Secretary De Lima as his chief graft buster. Her non-selection, though, as Chief Justice is not really a rebuke to her but will not be in the best interest to Mr. Aquino’s overall scheme of his administration.

If Mr. Aquino will be selecting a woman to replace Mr. Corona to help women break the glass ceiling in the judiciary, as did his mother in the executive branch, I feel, it should be Supreme Court Associate Justice Maria Lourdes P. A. Sereno, 52, and not Associate Justice Teresita de Castro, 63.

Between the two, GMA-appointee Justice De Castro, who convicted my friend and former President Joseph Estrada for plunder, and Justice Sereno, who was the first appointee of Mr. Aquino to the High Court, the latter has an edge even if Ms. De Castro is more senior than Ms. Sereno.

Why? Not only Justice Sereno is forward-looking and has an independence streak but she also has concrete plans to unclog the court by installing a monitor or a computerization or “software” that will lump some cases into one, say covered by “stare decisis” cases. Justice Sereno is the only one of the three and the most senior appointees so far of Mr. Aquino out of the 14 sitting associate justices. And Justice Sereno is the only one of the three Aquino appointees to apply for the vacant Chief Justice position. The rest are Arroyo appointees.

ELEVATION OF SERENO IS SHOOTING TWO BIRDS WITH ONE STONE

From now until the May 2016 presidential elections, from among the majority Arroyo court, only one can be replaced by Mr. Aquino – Associate Justice Roberto Abad – who is retiring on May 22, 2014. The other associate justice, Martin Villarama, who will be retiring on April 14, 2016, may not be replaced by Mr. Aquino as his retirement period falls within the ban on appointment during presidential elections.

So, if nobody is impeached or retires like Associate Justice Florentino Feliciano, who retired at the age of 67 to accept appointment to the Appellate Body of the World Trade Organization, or Associate Justice Ma. Alicia Austria-Martinez, who retired at 68, due to health reasons, or dies, from now until May 2016 from among the sitting associate justices, the most that Mr. Aquino can appoint before his term ends is one and that of the replacement of Justice Abad. This would run the total to four appointees before Aquino leaves office.

But if President Aquino “elevates” Associate Justice Sereno as Chief Justice, he will have another chance to appoint another Associate Justice for the post that will be vacated by new Chief Justice Sereno.

So, if Mr. Aquino commissions Justice Sereno as Chief Justice, he will be shooting two birds with one stone! This will give Mr. Aquino a high five.

That is why as soon as the Supreme Court resolves the pending motion for reconsideration filed by Sen. Francis Escudero and Rep. Neil Tupas, the JBC will be recovening again if Justice Sereno makes it to the short list and is eventually selected by Mr. Aquino.

If I were my kababayan from Sorsogon, Senator Escudero, I will not feel very bad if the Supreme Court denies their MR (motion for reconsideration). I believe the ruling of the Supreme Court should stand because the Constitution is very clear and unmistakable – Congress should only be represented by one person, not two, to the JBC. There is no more room for interpretation.

If the Supreme Court will allow him and Mr. Tupas to be members of JBC, the Court will be accused of amending the Constitution, a power the Court does not have.

But if they really insist on their MR, and since they have this power, Messrs. Escudero and Tupas can propose that the House of Representatives and the Senate convene as a Constituent assembly or “Con-Ass” and propose that “JBC has one representative each from both the House of Representatives and the Senate” and pass it with three-fourth votes from all their members based on Art. XVII of the Constitution and presto, they can both attend the JBC deliberation.

CALL “CON-ASS” OR PLAY POMPYANG!

If they do not call a Con-Ass, Messrs. Escudero and Tupas can alternate in attending the JBC deliberation by either a coin toss, as to who attends first, which is done to decide who receives first the ball in football or by raffle, which is done by raffling cases in court, or pompyang (rock-paper-scissors) game we used to play as kids in Sorsogon to find out who the winner is.

When asked if she won’t feel handicapped to get along with other more senior justices if appointed Chief Justice, Justice Sereno said she thinks she can handle the situation. She cited her passion for constitutional rule when, at age 39, she was appointed as the lone female member of the 25-member Presidential Commission on Constitutional Reform headed by Chief Justice Andres Narvasa, together with leaders such as former Justice and Ombudsman Conrado M. Vasquez and former Prime Minister Cesar Virata. She was appointed chair of the Steering Committee and nobody hesitated to appoint her in a leadership position. They even entrusted her to write the executive summary of the Constitutional Amendment of the economic provisions of the Philippine Constitution.

Looking herself in the mold of the late Supreme Court Chief Justice Claudio Teehankee as dissenter during martial law, Justice Sereno earned herself a reputation as a dissenter, among other cases, when she questioned Chief Justice Corona for raising two important policy questions on the Hacienda Luisita before the Court: Can a case that is already with the Supreme Court and that has already been heard in oral argument be subjected to mediation as ordered by the Chief Justice? And Can the Chief Justice individually give such an order that constitute a major policy decision?

Justice Sereno also objected to the issuance of a temporary restraining order for a petition and she and other justices had not even seen – in the case involving the impeachment of former Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez.

As to criticism that at 52, Justice Sereno could succumb to the Peter Principle of burnout and boredom, I believe, her “Seven Principles” that would guide her Court for the next 18 years should serve her well as these principles will make her life exciting. In the United States, only three Chief Justices were 50 years or younger, with John Jay, the youngest at 44.

In the US, the Judiciary is the only branch of government that comes closest to a royalty – Supreme Court Justices and some federal judges are appointed during “good behavior” or for life. If she is appointed Chief Justice, Sereno can find herself in the shoes of U.S. Chief Justice John Marshall, who for 35 years presided over a Court largely populated by Justices of an opposing political party. According to John P. Mark in Marble Palace, The Supreme Court in American Life, because of the “newness of the Constitution, it was expounding, (it) dealth with some of the greatest questions of history.” (lariosa_jos@sbcglobal.net)

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OPPOSING THE RATIFICATION OF MEMORANDUM OF AGREEMENT OF THE PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT OF SORSOGON AND LAND BANK OF THE PHILIPPINES

By VLADIMIR RAMON B. FRIVALDO

October 19, 2011

THE HONORABLE MEMBERS
OF THE SANGGUNIANG PANLALAWIGAN
Sorsogon City

Attention: HON. ANTONIO H. ESCUDERO, JR., MNSA
Vice Governor/Presiding Officer

Subject: OPPOSING THE RATIFICATION OF MEMORANDUM OF AGREEMENT OF THE
PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT OF SORSOGON AND LAND BANK OF THE PHILIPPINES

Dear Vice Governor Escudero,

Please register my opposition in the strongest terms against the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between Sorsogon Gov. Raul R. Lee and Land Bank of the Philippines (Legazpi Branch) relative to the P350.0 M Loan which was signed today October 19, 2011, witnessed by majority members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan.  This MOA is scheduled to be ratified, confirmed and approved in a resolution form by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan on Friday, October 21, 2011.

An irregularity can be easily traced on the sequence of events prior to signing of the aforesaid MOA.  On October 5, 2011, Gov. Raul Lee wrote a letter to the Sangguniang Panlalawigan Members enjoining specially its Presiding Officer, the Chairs and Members of the Committee on Budget and Appropriations and the Committee on Public Works, Infrastructure and Highways to be present in the signing of the MOA relative to the Loan of the Provincial Government of Sorsogon with the Land Bank of the Philippines.  That signing will be held on October 19, 2011, 9:00 am at the LBP Legazpi City Office.  Now, why did Gov. Raul Lee dated his letter to Sangguniang Panlalawigan on October 5, 2011?  Obviously, the approval of this controversial loan was pre-arranged by Gov. Raul Lee with the officials of the LBP Legazpi City Office as cohorts.

Please note that the letter of Mr. Hil Benedict G. Manzanadez, Dept. Manager and Head LBP Legazpi City Office is dated October 17, 2011 when he notified Gov. Raul R. Lee about the LBP approval of the P350.00 M loan.  This letter was received by the Office of the Governor only yesterday, October 18, 2011.

My opposition against the ratification, confirmation and approval of this gargantuan LBP Loan, among others, are as follows:

1. The people of Sorsogon will remember October 19, 2011 as a black day our poor province will be sunk deeper to the oblivion by the gargantuan P350.0 million loan by Gov. Raul R. Lee.  Many believe that our province will never move forward in the proper direction, ACCOUNTABILITY and TRANSPARENCY to the Filipino people is not upheld by most of our provincial officials.  Without this basic tenet of good governance, the culture of impunity and shameless corruption will continue to pervade throughout our provincial government, leading to more poverty for our poor people.

2. Up to now, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan including the undersigned has not yet received any copy of the auditing and accounting report on the previous P260.0 M LBP Loan obtained by former Gov. Sally A. Lee.  We, the present SP Members and the public as well, have the right to know the status or what the hell happened to the previous Administration’s loan, to determine whether or not said loan was really needed and was properly utilized or spent for the very purpose for which it was applied for.

3. The pending election protest against Gov. Lee docketed as Comelec Case No. SPA 09-187 (DC) entitled, Jose G. Solis versus Raul R. Lee filed last December 19, 2009 around 11:45 AM which is a Petition for Disqualification and Cancellation of Certificate of Candidacy.  Case status – ACTIVE.

4. A civil case filed against Gov. Raul Lee led by Matnog Parish Priest Fr. Alexander Jerus, the Alyansa Laban sa Mina sa Matnog (ALMMA), Bayan Sorsogon and private individuals residing in the Municipality of Matnog opposed the iron ore mining operation in Barangay Bolacawe, in Matnog town for total violation of R.A. 7076 otherwise known as the People’s Small Scale Mining Act, R.A. 7942, the Philippine Mining Act, R.A. 7160, Local Government Code.  Now pending before the Regional Trial Court in Sorsogon City.

5. A Graft and Corrupt Practices case against Gov. Raul Lee is now pending before the Sandiganbayan involving the alleged anomalous implementation eight years ago of the province’s Distance Learning Center Program (DLCP) involving P22 million pesos in funds sourced thru LBP and PNB loans.

6. And the most popular of all is the graft case of Gov. Raul Lee’s alleged direct involvement in the controversial P728.00 M fertilizer fund scam. Both graft charges have been elevated to the Sandiganbayan by the Ombudsman.

7. The LBP Notice of Loan Approval states that it is a violation under its General Terms and Conditions, Item No. 1 which provides that the LBP reserves the right to withhold loan releases should there be a case filed against the LGU or its officials involving the project to be financed.  But Governor Lee is the top Sorsogon official who signed this MOA and who will also administer and handle all fund releases of all projects under this P350.0 M loan.  We all know that Mr. Lee is already saddled by several criminal, anti-graft and corrupt practices cases pending before the Sandiganbayan and other courts.  What kind of evaluation was conducted by LBP and the Sangguniang Panlalawigan? Where is logic here?  Hindi ba ito ang nauuso sa buong mundo na corporate greed.  O ang tinatawag na bureaucratic capitalism?

Instead of condemning and sanctioning the questionable actions of the provincial governor, will it not appear that the Sangguniang Panlalawigan and Land Bank of the Philippines (Legazpi Office) have conveniently colluded with each other in tolerating the wrongdoings of Gov. Raul Lee by granting this mind boggling P350.0 million loan which shall be paid by the people’s money?  This P350.0 M loan is the biggest loan in the history of Sorsogon. The justification and the necessity of this loan is practically nil.  If no one from my distinguished colleagues in the Sangguniang Panlalawigan do not see anything wrong about this huge P350.0 M LBP loan and other previous loans, something must be very wrong somewhere.  Shall LBP and SP allow themselves to be like the three monkeys? SEE NO EVIL, TALK NO EVIL AND HEAR NO EVIL.

In sum, ratifying this Memorandum of Agreement by a majority vote of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan Members, such measure will only further inflame the peoples distrust to the Sorsogon provincial officials.  Sangguniang Panlalawigan will appear endorsing the people’s hard-earned money to a governor beseted by several anti-graft and corrupt practices cases and whose integrity is already in serious doubt.

My dear colleagues, let us all unite and protect the people’s money.  Let us denounce the Land Bank of the Philippines (Legazpi Office) and identify those people responsible for the approval of the loan passage for NOT exercising due diligence, prudence and sound judgment in evaluating the Sorsogon loan application for purposes of transparency and accountability at all times.  LBP corporate decision is also NOT in consonance with President Aquino’s “MATUWID NA LANDAS.”

God bless us.  Thank you.

Very truly yours,

VLADIMIR RAMON B. FRIVALDO

Cc:
Ms. Gilda Pico, LBP President
Sen. Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr., Chair Senate Committee on Local Government
Cong. George P. Arnaiz, Chair, Congressional Committee on Local Government
Cong. Deogracias B. Ramos, Jr., Member, Congressional Committee on Local Government
All Sorsogon Mayors and Barangay Chairmen

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CONTROVERSIAL P350 MILLION LOAN OF THE LEE ADMINISTRATION IS STILL IN THE PURGATORY

by Vladimir Ramon B. Frivaldo

After almost nine months the Sorsogon loan is still in purgatory.

The continued delay in the release of the controversial P350.0 million loan with Land Bank of the Philippine is giving the Lee administration a big headache.  This is due to the strong and determined opposition of the lone fiscalizer in the Sangguniang Panlalawigan by the grandson of late 8-term Gov. Juan Frivaldo.

The determined stand of neophyte Board Member Vladimir Ramon Frivldo regarding the gargantuan loan application was due mainly on the propriety and morality issue hounding Gov. Raul Lee and his wife Sally.

“ Are  the poor people of Sorsogon still willing to  trust the P350.0 million to a governor who is charged by 2 graft cases by the Ombudsman?”  Frivaldo told to the organizers of the Bulusan Kontra sa Geothermal.

Last April 14, 2011, the Philippine Daily Inquirer and other national newspapers published and announced that Sorsogon Gov. Raul Lee was charged with graft by Office of the Ombudsman and filed with the Sandiganbayan for his direct involvement in the very controversial P728.0 million fertilizer fund scam.

After a month, the Office of the Ombudsman has approved the filing of second graft charges against Gov. Raul Lee  and eight others in connection with the alleged anomalous implementation eight years ago of the province’s Distance Learning Center Program (DLCP) that involved a total amount of P22 million pesos in funds sourced thru LBP and PNB  loans.

The May 23, 2011 Resolution of Acting Ombudsman Orlando Casimiro paved the way for the filing with the Sandiganbayan of the charges that was made to wait for more than five years after the original complaint was filed with the Ombudsman in 2006 by SPM Rebecca Aquino.

Frivaldo has been pleading and begging the governor to submit to the people of any report, findings, financial report/status whatsoever of the P260.0 million loan of former Gov. Sally Lee but he fell on deaf ears.  He is also urging the poor taxpayer to ask also their governor to inform them what and how the said loan was ever realized-  and much more-,  used and spent.

“Lastly, I have learned that Gov. Raul R. Lee and his cohorts will continue to harass me and concentrating their efforts to expel me from office because I am a vocal fiscalizer of his administration.  Even I am the lone opposition in this chamber, I will stand my ground against bullies of Sorsogon.  I will continue the legacy of our old man Tata Owan fighting for the right and for the sake of our poor constituents.  Dahil sa mga kasaradayan kamo talaga ang tunay na lakas ng familia Frivaldo.  Hindi naming kayo malilimutan” Frivaldo or Blady to his relatives and friends in his parting words.

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Two Photos and captions added by  jun asuncion

 

Raul Lee proudly showing to his dear mentor Gloria Arroyo  the havoc they have caused to the people of Sorsogon.

Raul Lee (left) with his beloved mentor, protector and supplier of liquid fertilizers.

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PH TOURISM COUNCIL VICE CHAIR RECALLS “SURVIVING” 9/11

JGL Eye

By JOSEPH G. LARIOSA

Joseph Lariosa

(© 2011 Journal Group Link International) 

CHICAGO (jGLi) – A small group of Filipinos from my home province of Sorsogon in the Philippines was looking forward to a hearty breakfast in the Twin Towers in New York City, New York 10 years ago.

But the jetlag of the late arriving party and the long drawn-out conversations of the others waiting for them at Beacon Hotel on 72nd Avenue in New York City spilled into the small hours of the morning, prompting the group to move their meeting from breakfast to “brunch” (breakfast-lunch) between 10:30 and 11 a.m. on Sept. 11, 2001.

My friend, Joesan Gabarda, of Troy, Michigan and Sorsogon City, recalled that he was about to leave their Beacon Hotel and hail a taxi that would take him and some of his companions to the Twin Towers on Sept. 11 when he saw live on television that day that the Twin Towers were burning.

“If the late arriving party did not complain of being tired from the trip and if the others did not extend their conversations well into early in the morning, we would have rushed to the Twin Towers at 8 a.m., the exact time when the two planes hit the buildings. I am very sure we would have been among the victims of that tragic event.” Gabarda, a Filipino American anti-graft advocate, now muses.

“Perhaps, we were just lucky to “survive” 9/11,” Gabarda deadpans.

As vice chair of the Sorsogon Tourism Council, Gabarda’s presence was a must so he drove all the way from Troy to New York City to make it to the presentation of artifacts of Sorsogon Tourism Council in the Philippine Trade Center on 5th Avenue in New York City.

OTHER MEMBERS OF SORSOGON TOURISM COUNCIL

 Among the officers and members of the Council were Sorsogon’s Filipino American Attorney Loida Nicolas Lewis (chair) and her brother, Francis Nicolas, Wilfredo “Buboy” Duana and his wife, Cherry, and his mother, Milagros Duana, Cecilia Duran of Sorsogon City’s Fernando Hotel, Cecilia Capinpin and Eddie Chua.

“I made a reservation earlier at Twin Towers so our group can have a breakfast at 8 a.m. but we could not make it that early. So, I delayed our meeting to 10:30 or 11:00 a.m.” he recalls.

Gabarda said Eddie Chua, Buboy and Cherry arrived from the Philippines in the morning of Sept. 10. So, he and Fernando Laban of New Jersey picked up the three at the Newark, New Jersey airport. They brought the three new arrivals straight from the airport to Philippine Trade Center to catch the presentations of artifacts.

In the afternoon, some in the group took the stuff of the new arrivals to Beacon’s Hotel and together with rest of about 30 to 50 guests, they proceeded to the two-floor Central Park condominium of Atty. Lewis, who hosted a dinner party.

While most of the guests took cabs to go to the hotel after the dinner party, others, like Joesan, Cherry, Buboy and Francis, decided to walk from the Central Park condominium on 5th Avenue to Beacon Hotel at 72nd Avenue. It must have been a long walk, he remembered it was almost 3 a.m. in his watch and he was dead tired when they reached the hotel.

Coupled with the lack of sleep of the new arrivals and the late morning sleep of the rest, it was easy to delay the breakfast meeting from 8 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. on Sept. 11.

“When I saw TV footages with the jets hitting the Twin Towers, I thanked God and congratulated our group, telling them, ‘we were survivors.” Gabarda said.

He said that while everybody were scampering from the Towers, he and Eddie Chua were curious so they tried to take a cab going to the Towers. But they could not flag down a cab. They went to catch a train at the subway but there was no train to catch either.

TRAPPED FOR TWO DAYS IN NY

 Since nobody can get out, “we were trapped for two days in New York.” Everyone was being inspected and was properly identified. Atty. Lewis later invited the group to her home at South Hampton, Long Island for a get-together.

Atty. Lewis was so nervous she did not ride her car but decided to “join me and Eddie Chua in my small run-down P.T. Cruiser” to her South Hampton home.

Eddie Chua later joined him in his trip back to Michigan and Eddie flew to California after three days.

Among the artifacts presented on the eve of 9/11 were paintings that were being exhibited in the Sorsogon Tourism Council now being run by Ms. Sylvia Perdigon, a coordinator of Sorsogon’s governor’s office.

Gabarda said when he noticed that the Sorsogon provincial government was taking an active hand in running the affairs of the Sorsogon Tourism Council, he resigned from the position. “After my resignation, Atty. Lewis followed suit,” Gabarda said.

He believes the Sorsogon Tourism Council is better left to the non-government organizations (NGO’s), with the government “just supporting role.”

It is unfortunate that the government is always interested in raising sponsorship money on behalf of the council. But the money is not flowed back to the projects of the council. The money lines the pockets of those running the council, Gabarda rues.

Gabarda said his original group, who “survived” the 9/11, had a reunion a year later in the condominium of Atty. Lewis at Rockwell in Makati City. But they might reminisce again about “our second life” in another reunion, maybe sometime in the future.

“Meanwhile, let’s pose for a moment to pray for those, who were not as lucky like us, who survived,” he said.

 

9/11 “SURVIVOR”

Joesan Gabarda (extreme right), a 9/11 “survivor,” is shown in this photo with this columnist (extreme left), when they met at Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center in Michigan last Aug. 10. Others in photo from left are Brooke Camp, a CNN recruiter, Curtis Lee Jay, news anchor of “Action News” of NBC in Kansas City, Missouri, a grandson of Felino Lee of Magallanes, Sorsogon and Bobby M. Reyes of Sorsogon City and Mabuhay Radio based in Los Angeles, California. (© 2011 jGLiPhoto) //

JOSEPH G. LARIOSA
Correspondent
Journal Group Link International
P. O. BOX 805072
CHICAGO IL 60680-4112 U.S.A.
Tel. 312.772.5454
Fax No. 773.283.5986
Email: lariosa_jos@sbcglobal.net

(Watch out for the upcoming media-outlet oriented, subscription-based website of Journal Group Link International that guarantees originally sourced stories, features, photos, audios and videos and multi-media contents.)

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THIS BACMAN IS NO HERO

JGL Eye

By JOSEPH G. LARIOSA

 

CHICAGO (jGLi) – In his diary, Philippine national hero Jose Rizal described Missouri River as twice the size of Pasig River in its widest part. Missouri is just the second largest tributary of the Mississippi, the largest river system in North America.

In my youth, I considered Kawayan (spelled with a “k” since there is no “c” in Tagalog nor Bikol alphabets) River in Basud, Sorsogon in the Philippines just as big as the Pasig River if not half as big in its narrowest part.

When I was in grade school, I always cherished the days when we visited our relatives living near Kawayan River so we could swim in the white water the whole day.

If we could leave early in the day, we would even walk upstream of Kawayan River called “Rangas” for a picnic to visit one of my uncles, Felipe Lariosa, who would guide us to a pool of water which was so clean it was safe to drink. We did not care if we took on water while we bathed.

Today, Kawayan River is like a swamp that may soon become a dry and barren land.

Thanks to what Los Angeles, California activist and former Sorsogon resident Bobby Reyes describes as an “ecological rape” of Kawayan River perpetrated formerly by the Philippine government when it was operating the Philippine National Oil Company, which later became National Power Corporation. The NPC ceded its interest to Energy Development Corporation after submitting the complying bid for the 150-MW Bacman (Bacon-Manito) geothermal plants last year for 1.2-billion pesos (US$26-million) during an auction hosted by PSALM (Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp).

While geothermal is considered “cleaner energy” than coal- or oil-fired power plant because each kilowatt-hour of electricity it generates only emits about 5 percent of carbon dioxide, along with the area’s “rotten-egg” smell as well as ammonia and methane that it emits, geothermal still raises environmental issues such as air and water pollutions along with safe disposal of hazardous waste, silting, and land subsidence.

 FACEBOOK REVOLUTION

One of the residents near Kawayan River, Sonia Lariosa, a cousin of mine, informed Mr. Reyes that in her Facebook, http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150294889948968.379581.720778967, everyone can see the effects of how huge power companies bring ecological nightmare to the rivers like Kawayan and nearby farm lands when these powerful companies disregard environmental safeguards as they go about with their business.

Sonia complains that Kawayan River is now a very small tributary and from the photos, it seems it is no longer empties into the Sorsogon Bay.

She said her small rice fields are no longer irrigated with water from up streams but with muds “with cement” that can only come from nearby “Bacman II, a geothermal facility that operates two 20-Megawatt-unit turbines “commissioned in 1994.”

The word “Bacman” was taken from the towns of Bacon, Sorsogon and Manito Albay in the Bikol region. It has a steam plant (BacMan I) located in the boundary of Bacon and Manito.

“When my father was alive (Cerelo Lariosa, a World War II veteran), these PNOC people had been bulldozing our small patch of land. My father protested but because nobody can sue the government without its consent, my father gave up and let them do what they wanted,” Sonia recalls.

While the PNOC was building their facility, quarrying of the river went into high gear. Today, when there is rain, there are no more stones to hold the soil and there are mudslides all over the place.

Sonia is not the only one affected. Her neighbors about 200 of them have signed up a petition to put into stop to the unmitigated exploitation of their natural resources that used to irrigate their rice fields, which are the main sources of their livelihood. “We can no longer grow palay in our rice fields,” she wailed.

BANTAY SALAKAY (PROTECTOR-PREDATOR)?

She said she could not get the cooperation of her Barangay Captain so their complaints will reach the higher government authorities (the local “representathieves” of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources), who are conniving with the Energy Development Company people.

They are now enlisting the help of senior law students from Aquinas University in Legazpi City so they can file complaints.

They have formed a group called “Bacman Geothermal Multi Monitoring Task Force,” which will file a complaint against EDC before the United Nations for violating the KYOTO PROTOCOL, an environmental treaty, of which the Philippines is a signatory.

The Task Force realizes that they are up against a behemoth in the industry in EDC, a geothermal leader whose Chair Emeritus is Oscar Lopez of the powerful ABS-CBN international conglomerate. Last May 15, EDC reported a net income of 1.45 billion pesos (US$31-Million) for the first quarter of the year alone. Thru its subsidiaries Green Core Geothermal, Inc. (GCGI) and Bacman Geothermal, Inc. (BGI), EDC acquired the geothermal power plants owned by National Power Corporation, which sources steam from Company’s steam field assets.

Oscar Lopez is a sister of Gina Paz L. Lopez, the managing director of ABS- CBN’s Foundation, Inc.’s Bantay Kalikasan (nature protector) that “envisions a responsibly protected and preserved Philippine environment where children can live safer, healthier and more bountiful lives.”
Sonia said she wrote Gina about her complaints against EDC. But Sonia is afraid Gina is going to be placed in a “conflicting role.”

EDC remains the largest producer of geothermal energy in the Philippines, accounting for 62 percent of the total country, the largest integrated geothermal power company in the world.

Last year, Bacman plants generated 1,199 MW. To appreciate better the power of an MW, a 3-MW plant can supply electricity to Ormoc City, which has a population of 177,524 people and Ormoc’s nearby towns. (lariosa_jos@sbcglobal.net)

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In Not So Recent Memory


by Oliver Geronilla

Taking a stroll down memory lane always makes me smile. I smile for all the things I did in the past—both good and bad.

March and April are special months. They are the months when graduations are held—the time when many– if not all school friends– say goodbye to each other. They’re also the months when I reminisce the graduations that I was a part of. At BNCS-A, I lead the graduates of school year 1991 in reciting the “Pledge of Loyalty.” We didn’t wear academic gowns then.

Weeks before the most anticipated day, we rehearsed two “graduation songs” (If We Hold on Together and The Greatest Love of All) which until now I still remember very clearly–both the lyrics and the melody. Our teachers painstakingly taught us how to pronounce the words correctly.  Mrs. Lilinda Golloso repeatedly told us to say MOUNT’NS and not MOUNTAYNS.

During the Closing Ceremonies, everyone was in high spirits except for me. I was disappointed– terribly disappointed. I felt bitter that time despite the two medals I received—a bronze medal for being the first honorable mention, and one gold medal for being the representative of our district to a science quiz bee.  In my mind, my teachers “cheated” me. I knew I wasn’t the best pupil, but I knew I was the second best among us.

I told mama and papa about my disappointment, but they just smiled at me; they were happy for what I achieved. They were proud of me. That’s what mattered.

From the processional down to the recessional, I wasn’t excited. But I could see that all parents were. We, the graduates, were there… just there trying to remember all the things we had to do. It was more of a performance.  There were speeches. There were rounds of applause. It was an academic pageantry that I wanted to erase from my memory.

That childhood angst lingered for more than a decade. I just couldn’t see beyond the end of my nose. Acceptance, or should I say “closure,” came only some years ago when I personally witnessed how academic rankings were actually done. It was far more complicated than I thought. That  gave me a blast of the past with a twist I failed to recognize.

Maybe it’s too late for me to personally extend my gratitude to my teachers back then at BNCS-A. After all, without them, I wouldn’t have learned the ropes of the English language. My elementary school teachers, for sure, played a pivotal role in shaping my future. That’s a fact of life I can’t deny. And that’s something I should forever be grateful.

Some of them are no longer with us mortals; some of them are now enjoying their retirement days. Some of them may still remember me: the lanky boy who didn’t copy the notes written on the board. I do still remember most of them. Who could forget, for example, our math teacher from  the 5th grade to the 6th grade? Her weapon was not the quintessential rod or stick –which every school teacher had that time–which could leave a bruise on our skin when we’re hit, but her (right?) thumb and index finger that could skillfully grab our sideboards …to either pull them up or down.  Addaayy!!

There’s, of course, our SIBIKA teacher who was fond of delivering monologues mouthing out all the names, places, and dates he could muster from our textbook.

(to be continued)

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Turning Weaknesses into Strengths

 

By W. Scott Thompson and Oliver Geronilla

 

 We have always hated people giving advice.  It usually stems from their own insecurities or their desire to look stronger and wiser than we are.  But what if you ask for it? Sartre, on one occasion, said: “Once you choose your adviser, you’ve chosen your advice.”  So much for the impartiality of advice.

Now when a bright new president comes on the scene, Dutch Uncles are just full of advice especially if that “advice” might give them an entrée to Malacanang. There are also the doubting Thomases-cum-analysts who sometimes play politics. The question is:  Is it wrong for analysts or the general public to think about all the qualifications—and disqualifications—of a new leader—and how to play to these?  We don’t think so. After all, no one is perfect. 

There are five things that people say about the new president that might be negative but can be positive.

First, he isn’t an economist—though he, in fact, studied economics at Ateneo.  Well, Barack Obama isn’t an economist either. Nor Winston Churchill. Nor Franklin Roosevelt. Nor is any major leader in the world to our knowledge.  Oh,  there was GMA—an economist.  What a marvelous reason to be grateful that P-Noy isn’t an economist.

Second, P-Noy isn’t peripatetic,  isn’t instant-energetic, likes to sleep late, and doesn’t get excited.  That’s a disadvantage?  Well, there are lots of things to be done when you are president, and we assume that P-Noy isn’t like Erap, sleeping late because he’s hung over and wants to start the new day (as we once saw him) with brandy and roast beef. All hail to saying ‘Chill’ when everyone else is running around.  Remember Kipling’s poem ‘If’?  ‘

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
….

If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;

If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster

And treat those two impostors just the same;

  …you’ll be a Man, my son!

 Third, he is sometimes faulted for not having a wife.  But he was overwhelmingly elected with that in full view.  In these days, is this anybody’s business?  Maybe it’s strength.  Every eligible woman in the country will hope to become first lady.  The position is not foreclosed though we presume that the new president is comfortable with his life as it is, and we shouldn’t expect any changes.

There is only one ‘weakness’ that might be scary—the fourth. P-Noy hasn’t been to Europe.  In this he echoes ‘W’ Bush, who through his father’s headship of the CIA, ambassadorship to China, etc., never traveled beyond the Rio Grande. P-Noy could have accompanied his mother on her trips as head of state—and chose not to.  We don’t however think his reasons are the bad ones that ‘W’ had (‘W’ was drugging and drinking in those years).  And we recall our own shock that Ronald Reagan went to Venice for a G-8 summit, revealed he’d never been there, and even then avoided St. Marks Cathedral and the great plaza.  But Reagan was a great president. In fact P-Noy’s tendency to stay at home might mean a lack of braggadocio, a contentedness with his huge responsibilities here in the archipelago.  Let’s hope so.

Now the last weakness: P-Noy smokes.  Maybe that’s his biggest strength, but it makes him an instant friend of Barack Obama. At the dreamy level of heads of state, the highest club of any, all you need is a connection to the king-of-kings.  They have it; they’ve already had a long chat about it.  Obama we think a bit hypocritically is reported as saying that he’s quit, but his annual physical contradicts that. So they’ve got plenty to joke about.  And no doubt on his state visit, President Noy and Barack will find a room deep down in the nuclear-secure area of the White House to have some smoke and jokes.

A leader usually emerges because he ‘fits’ the needs of his electorate.  In this case, President Noy fits the desperate need of the Filipino electorate for someone whom they can trust after nine years of scalawags; Benigno Aquino III was elected because he fits a huge requirement for the job—the nation’s desire for someone in the mold of his mother, more a saint than a devil.

Don’t worry about critics, and don’t worry about all the advice, P-Noy. Remember what Franklin Roosevelt said, when the carping got intense? “I welcome their hatred,” sublimely—and with his cigarette flashing from its iconic holder. //

 

Oliver Geronilla is a language instructor based in Dasmariñas City. W. Scott Thompson, Dr. Phil. served four presidents in the United States and is professor emeritus of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in Boston.

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